KINGSTON — Marlboro coach Brian Beck had an optimistic message for his Dukes at the half even though they had turned the ball over four times and trailed Ardsley 13-6 in Saturday’s state Class B quarterfinal round contest at Dietz Stadium.
“What we said was that we were lucky to be down only a touchdown after playing one of our sloppiest halves of the year,” Beck said of his halftime talk. “We felt that if we could get rid of all the little mistakes, we’d be on the road to success.”
The Dukes played a near-perfect second half, scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter for a 27-19 victory over the Section 1 titlists to advance to the semifinal round. Marlboro (10-1) will face Section 2 champion Glen Falls (9-2) at 3 p.m. Saturday at Faller Field in Middletown with the winner advancing to play for the Class B state title the following week in the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.
Ardsley (9-1) had no answer for Marlboro’s feared running game. Dukes star tailback Ameer Williams (32-173) and senior quarterback Sam Mongelli (17-99) did most of the damage behind the Dukes’ rugged offensive line.
Williams’ 3-yard TD run capped a 66-yard drive that tied the game at 13-13 with 10:53 left in the fourth quarter.
The Dukes took the lead for good on Mongelli’s 5-yard scoring scamper around right end for a 20-13 lead with 5:09 remaining.
After Dukes defensive back Jack Young broke up a pass intended for Panthers star wide receiver Vincent Manzi (10 catches for 227 yards, one TD), Marlboro running back Eric Borchert sealed it with a 43-yard TD run for a 27-13 lead with 3:01 remaining.
Mongelli said the Dukes are feeling good about being one win away from a shot at the school’s first state football crown. They are riding a nine-game winning streak heading into next week’s game, with the last loss coming to Cornwall, which is the only other Section 9 football team alive.
“We’re confident,” Mongelli said. “It feels great to know that we have one more game to win to get to the Dome.”
Ardsley got off to a quick 7-0 lead when strong-armed quarterback Frankie Belarge found Manzi wide open for a 63-yard TD in the first minute.
The Dukes struck right back, though, as Mongelli completed an 83-yard scoring march by connecting with senior wide receiver Noah Hadley on a 26-yard scoring pass to close to within 7-6 with 6:36 left in the first quarter.
Belarge found Manzi all alone for a 50-yard completion on the Panthers’ next drive to push the ball inside the Dukes’ 15. Two plays later, Belarge hit running back Henry Bretts on a 9-yard TD toss right over the middle for a 13-6 lead with 4:39 left in the second quarter.
Although Ardsley had success with its passing attack early, Young said the Dukes were confident they would prevail in the end.
“We didn’t need to make any adjustments because he (Beck) believed in us,” Young said his head coach. “We kept everything the same because we knew we’d come out with the ‘W’ and now we’re moving on.”